Lifting of most sanctions against Niger by ECOWAS: “the social cost was very high”

The heads of state of the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), meeting on Saturday in Abuja, decided to lift the sanctions imposed on Niamey after the takeover of power by the military regime. A decision notably motivated by “

humanitarian reasons 


[Illustrative image] Motorists passing in front of the National Assembly in Niamey, Niger, August 7, 2023. © AFP

By: RFI Follow


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After the decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), meeting at an extraordinary summit in Abuja on Saturday February 24, almost

all official and economic sanctions

against Niamey will now be lifted, apart from individual sanctions. and policies that remain in place.

Concretely, this arbitration will lead to the end of the closure of land and air borders between Niger and the countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and ECOWAS, the end of the ban on flights over the UEMOA zone by Niger, as well as the end of the suspension of all commercial transactions between UEMOA countries and Niger.

Above all, this decision marks the end of the freezing of financial and monetary assets of the State of Niger at the Central Bank of West African States (Bceao), lists our regional correspondent, 

Serge Daniel


A political choice for the survival of ECOWAS

The choice by


to take this measure this weekend raises questions, especially since it was a question of requesting the release of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum before lifting the sanctions.

But simply, ECOWAS had its back to the wall.

The sanctions hit above all the populations concerned;

they had become unpopular because they were supposed to be used to bring down the junta, which was not the case.

The situation then changed when

Niger joined forces with Mali and Burkina Faso

to slam the door on ECOWAS.

New balance of power has established itself, and since the return of these countries within the institution is desired, ECOWAS has decided to “look


” to Niger and, by extension, to Mali and Burkina Faso.


was gambling for its survival on this issue

: the Ivorian president, Alassane Ouattara, was for appeasement;

the Togolese president, Faure Gnassimbé, openly called for the lifting of sanctions, without forgetting the Beninese, Patrice Talon, who, during the closed session of heads of state in Abuja, used this expression: “

Let's swallow the snake, we must the ECOWAS of the peoples before the sanctions.


The extreme poverty rate exceeds 40% in Niger

This decision was also motivated by “

humanitarian reasons 

” as the sanctions had severely affected this Sahelian country where the extreme poverty rate

exceeds 40% according to the World Bank


From now on, with the reopening of borders and Nigerien airspace as well as the authorization of financial transactions between the ECOWAS countries and Niger, all economic activity will resume.

For Ibrahim Adamou Louche, economist, it is therefore a vice that is loosening around the Nigerien people.

Undeniably, the social cost was very high and, moreover, there was even loss of human life following power cuts, with the disruption also of the supply chain, which notably caused shortages of medicines.

All of this had undeniable consequences

 ,” he explains on

Christina Okello

’s microphone . 

Now, what will change is the normalization of relations, and therefore the gradual resumption of trafficking, particularly between Benin and Niger.

This will result in a resumption of supplies of goods which have been suspended since the entry into force of the sanctions, which will naturally make a whole lot of things easier for the daily life of the Nigerien population.

That said, in terms of results, it remains mixed in the sense that the reasons for which the sanctions were imposed were not, in part, satisfied by the junta.

On the other hand, it was pragmatism, “realpolitik”, which ended up winning out: the stakes were becoming higher and also the pressure from the population was becoming stronger and stronger 

,” analyzes the economist. 

Read also ECOWAS meeting in Abuja: behind the scenes of the summit


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